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Syracuse is the fifth largest city in New York State. What do most people think of when this upstate city in the Finger Lakes region is mentioned? Well, many think about Syracuse University —the large, highly-regarded private university, which is also home to the powerhouse Division One sports teams. But the city actually offers endless opportunities for history, architecture and outdoor buffs. Throw in lots of kid-friendly activities and it becomes clear that Syracuse is an ideal overnight destination for almost anyone.


Leave the car at home and take Amtrak directly to the Syracuse Station (SYR). Many Syracuse University students ride Amtrak to and from school on holidays and other getaways. A train ride from Manhattan’s Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station to Syracuse takes approximately 5 hours and 35 minutes.

Erie Canal Museum

Upon arrival, head over to the Erie Canal Museum; it’s open seven days a week, from 10 am to 4:00 pm. The canal, built between 1817 and 1825, traveled more than 360 miles from Albany to Buffalo. It was considered the greatest public works project on the continent and was what put New York on the map as the Empire State—a leader in industry and economic strength. The original Erie Canal ran through the center of Syracuse, although it was since been filled in. (Erie Boulevard marks the path of the original canal.)

The museum houses the unique 1850 Syracuse Weighlock Building that once weighed canal cargo. One of the museum’s permanent exhibits details the history and construction of the Canal, from earliest conception to the modern Barge Canal System. Award -winning interactive displays showcase 200 years of fascinating Erie Canal history. Outdoor walking tours are offered on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


For lunch, try Pastabilities —the name says it all, and you’ll be talking about their spicy hot tomato oil and fresh baked bread for weeks to come. (Trust us: they know what they’re doing; they’ve been there for 40 years!) Or, if it is a weekend grab lunch or brunch at Oh My Darling, a chic bistro with exposed brick and high ceilings that truly has something for everyone from vegans to meat lovers.


Work off that delicious lunch with a walk around downtown. Stroll around Clinton Square, famous for its gothic architecture and multiple monuments. Admire the castle-like Syracuse Bank Building and meander around the brick walkways of Hanover Square, which was the first commercial district in the city and has more than a dozen historic building. Syracuse was a major stop on the Underground Railroad; try to find the various markers around the city.

Armory Square Historic District

After checking into the Parkview Hotel, a boutique downtown hotel, head over to the Armory Square Historic District, the city’s cultural hub. Stop for a drink at Three Lives Bar, half arcade, half trendy bar and eatery; we dare you to resist the Super SMASH fries. Then its on to dinner.  We recommend Lemon Grass Restaurant, which has been serving up ‘Pacific Rim Thai Food’, which includes a popular Pad Thai, to happy customers for two decades.  

After dinner, shop for the hottest sneakers and other fashions at Ambition Upstate. If the nightlife is calling you, stop by Kitty Hoynes, a famous Irish pub, which offers us the usual Irish grub and beer, as well as traditional Irish and acoustic music several night a week. Specially-crafted cocktails, as well as popular oysters, can be found the chic lounge, The York.

Everson Museum of Art

The following morning, get up and go for a walk or bike ride on the 4.8-mile Onondaga Creekwalk. This mostly paved path connects Syracuse’s south side to downtown—you can pick it up in the Armory Square Historic District—and then heads north to Onondaga Lake.



We suggest that you refuel with the legendary brunch at Mothers Cupboard Fish Fry & Diner.  But there are dozens of delicious places for breakfast or brunch near the Creekwalk. Margaritas Mexican Cantina and Pita Dream offer some international options.

Also near the Creekwalk and definitely worth a visit is the Museum of Science and Technology, open Thursday through Sunday. Here, you can explore 35,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, from the Dino Zone, with life-sized moving dinosaurs, to the Planetarium, to a gem and mineral gallery.  Check out the Syracuse Innovation Station, with features innovations, industries and inventions unique to the Syracuse area. During Fall 2023, there is a focus on the 90-year-old Byrne Dairy.

If you still have time, do check out the Everson Museum of Art, which is solely focused on American works. It also has one of the largest ceramics collections in the country. The building itself, designed by internationally-known architect I.M. Pei, is a work of art in its own right.

In the afternoon, it’s time to leave the city limits. Just 10 minutes south of the city lies Clark Reservation State Park. Climb through the cliffs to look down at the glacial plunge basin lake. Other natural features include woodlands and a meadows; fisherman catch catch pickerel, bullheads and sunfish. There are guided nature walks on most weekends. You’ll relax just long enough to reflect on your amazing Syracuse getaway.

Getting to Syracuse

Take Amtrak to your weekend getaway in Syracuse via the Syracuse Station (SYR). Also, dont forget to use the See New York and Save 15% discount!

Get picked up from Syracuse Station and taken to your reserved NYTRAIN Enterprise Rent-a-Car! Click here to reserve your car or call the Syracuse office today at: 315-423-0002.